- Secession of states of the
Deep South—by December 20th South Carolina had voted to Secede
repealing its ratification of the Constitution and dissolving its union with
- They used the threats to
slavery as well as the election of a “sectional” candidate who was “hostile”
to slavery; had said “government cannot endure permanently half slave, half
free,” and had stated that slavery was on its way to extinction.
- By February 1861 they were
joined by the Deep South states and they together wrote a Constitution for
the Confederate States of America and elected Jefferson Davis president and
Alexander Stephens VP. They were joined by the upper south later.
Buchanan's reaction to
- He was the “lame-duck”
president and thought secession was just a bluff. He thought people and not
states were in rebellion so he couldn’t do anything about it.
- The secessionists seized
federal property throughout the South and Buchanan was faced with the task of
holding on to some isolated positions such as—Fort Pickens, Florida and some
remote islands off the coast of Florida; and, Fort Sumter.
- Fort Sumter had just been
finished and Major Robert Anderson moved his troops there from nearby Fort
Moultrie. South Carolina authorities were not amused.
- Buchanan had finally done
something and stood firm telling SC the Unionists would not withdraw. He
sent a ship, Star of the West, with reinforcements and provisions and the SC
militia fired on the ship turning it away.
- Buchanan ignored this act
of war hoping instead for fruits of compromise to take hold.
Last efforts at compromise
- Congress tried to compromise
until right up till inauguration day. Senator John J. Crittenden (KY) called
for a compromise to expend slavery to the Pacific using the old 39-30 line.
Neither house of Congress went for it.
- The best attempt at
compromise was an amendment guaranteeing slavery where it existed.
- Republicans including
Lincoln supported this but not in the territories. On inauguration day it
passed the Senate 24-12 after passing the House earlier.
- It would have become the 13th
amendment and the first time “slavery” was mentioned in the Constitution but
the states never ratified it. As it turns out the 13th amendment
was ratified after the Civil War and it abolished slavery.
The End of the Interim Period
- Lincoln’s hints—during his
round-about train trip to DC he told the NJ legislature “The man does not live
who is more devoted to peace than I am… But it may be necessary to put the
foot down.” Rumors of assassination plot forced him to take a night train
through Baltimore and slip into DC unnoticed.
- The inauguration—he again
vowed not to interfere with slavery where it existed but he disavowed that any
state could secede and he vowed to keep federal areas and collect taxes and
deliver mail, unless violence prevented it. He made to mention that no force
would be used against anyone anywhere.
- “I am loathe to close. We
are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may
have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords
of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every
living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the
chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the
better angels of our nature.”
Presidential appointments—in addition to entering office during the most
stressful time ever, Lincoln found himself surrounded with political
office-seekers from the whole of the Republican Party.
- Many of the members of
his new cabinet thought they were better qualified than he was to lead the
country and they had even competed for the nomination at Chicago.
- He named William Seward
Secretary of State and Salmon Chase Secretary of the Treasury.
The conflict begins—the day after inauguration word arrived form
Charleston that supplies were running out and Lincoln decided to re-supply after
notifying the governor of SC.
- Jefferson Davis at
Montgomery decided not to let him. Confederate general Pierre Beauregard
demanded the fort to surrender and Major Anderson refused and at 4:30 a.m.
on April 12 the shelling commenced for the next 30 hours.
- On April 14th
Anderson surrendered. The following day Lincoln called on the states to
supply 75,000 state militia members to put down the rebellion. On April 19th
he declared a blockade of the southern ports.
Secession of the upper South—northern states had no qualms about
furnishing troops but the states of Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North
Carolina especially had real problems with the thought of fighting against their
sister (slave) states.
- Once Virginia seceded the
capitol of the Confederacy moved from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond,
- In the mountainous
regions of Tennessee and Virginia unionism ran high and in Tennessee the
mountain counties sent more troops to the Union than to the Confederacy.
- In western Virginia the
area would break with the eastern part of the state and form the state of
West Virginia in 1863 with a constitution that allowed for the gradual
emancipation of slaves.
- The suspension of habeas
corpus was used to hold Maryland in the Union as the defection of this
state would have isolated DC within the Confederacy!
- Maryland was always a
difficult place for the Federals as the first four casualties of the war
occurred when troops walking from one train station to another were set
upon with rocks and rifles and four of the Sixth Massachusetts regiment
- Habeas corpus means
that judges can require arresting officers to justify their arrests but
once suspended they threw pro-Confederate leaders in jail thereby
ensuring a solid pro-Union majority in the state.
- Divided Kentucky—home to
both Lincoln and Davis, they had a Unionist majority but tried to maintain
“neutrality” while Lincoln assured them that a war against secession was
not a war against slavery.
- Their “neutrality” was
made easier when US Grant moved into the state with federal troops.
- The battle for
Missouri—although the Unionists outnumbered the Confederates, the
sympathizers were able to muster a Confederate militia in the heart of St.
- The Unionists chased
them from town finally defeating them at Pea Ridge (Arkansas) in March
1862. Border warfare continued unabated however between Missouri and
Lee’s decision to join the Confederacy—his father was a Revolutionary war
hero and he himself had been in the US Army for 30 years. His estate faced
Washington DC and General Winfield Scott offered him the command of the entire
- He refused saying that he
could not go against his birthplace and resigned his commission and
retired to his estate before being called to the Confederate cause.
Examples of family splits—Franklin Buchanan commanded the Virginia and
sank the USS Congress with his brother on board, John Crittenden of KY had a son
in each army.
- J. E. B. Stuart fought
against his father-in-law in the Peninsula Campaign.
- Mrs. Lincoln had four
brothers and three brothers-in-law in the Confederacy.
- Pro-Union sentiment in the
South ran high in some places—every Confederate State except SC organized
Federal units to fight for the Union.
- Some Confederates who were
captured chose to fight out west against the Indians rather than stay in
- In Texas six counties were
declared in rebellion and the Confederate state government had to send in
the troops to defeat them.
- Especially hard hit were
the German immigrants and 34 of them were executed when they tried to
escape to Mexico.
- The Arkansas Peace
Society saw several members executed for opposing secession and war.
Balance sheet for the war—the
danger is in thinking that a northern victory was a foregone conclusion as it
was anything but. The human factor played a decisive role.
- The North’s advantages—they
had a larger population (22 million to 9 million, but even 3.5 million of them
were slaves). This was a four to one advantage for the north; the Confederacy
then had to employ a far greater percentage of their population to equal the
playing field and 1/3 of them died.
- Industry—the only iron
industry in the South was the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond and the Northern
industries turned out 97% of the firearms and 96% of the railroad equipment.
They also had the distinct advantage in banking and finance.
- Farm production—went to the
North also as the South would see their agricultural output upset during the
war while northern farms increased their output. The North produced a surplus
of wheat while those crops in Europe failed leading King Wheat to replace King
- Transportation—this advantage
grew larger as the war dragged on and the north had about 20,000 miles of
railroads to the South’s 10,000 but the Southern railroads were mainly short
and built of differing gauges so that cars couldn’t use separate tracks.
- The North had three lines
connecting them to the western farmers and the South only had one from
Memphis to Chattanooga.
- The South’s advantage—first
they only had to fight a defensive war on their own territory. They also had
the strongest military leaders with two military schools in the South, The
Citadel and VMI. This in addition to the Southerners that went to West Point.
- Sea power was an important
advantage for the North—secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles was one of the
best and oversaw the growth of the navy from about 50 to 650 ships.
- The navy was able to
effectively cut off the South from the rest of the world through its
blockade. The smaller boats were particularly effective in the Southern
rivers as when they gained advantage of the Mississippi and other
The War’s Early Course
- Most people thought it would
be a quick war with a Napoleon like major battle that causes the army to
become demoralized and lose the will to fight.
- Winfield Scott’s strategy for
the North—he devised the “Anaconda Plan” where the Federals would blockade the
South then divide over and over the South by attacking south by way of the
rivers. No one bought into this plan of Scott’s at first because the war was
going to be over so quickly.
First Battle of Bull Run—after
Fort Sumter Beauregard was chomping at the bit to fight and Davis then sent him
north to the railroad junction of Manassas about 25 miles west of DC. Lincoln
countered by sending General Irvin McDowell to meet the outnumbered
- From there they would quickly
move on the Richmond and the war would be over. As such, hundreds of civilians
marched out to picnic and watch the battle and came away having seen horror.
- The two generals had been
classmates at West Point and just when the Rebels seemed to be defeated
General Bernard Bee of SC rallied his troops when he yelled, “Look, there is
Jackson with his Virginians, standing like a stone wall.” The resultant
nickname will last in perpetuity.
- When McDowell’s charge failed
his troops turned and ran back towards DC where they mixed with the terrified
civilians. Federal politicians tried to sway the soldiers into fighting by
threatening to shoot them, but to no avail.
- “We called them cowards,
denounced then in the most offensive terms, pulled out our heavy revolvers
and threatened to shoot them, but in vain; a cruel, crazy, mad, hopeless
panic possessed them.”
- Jackson wanted to give
chase but his troops were as frazzled as those of the North. The battle was
indecisive but the failure of the Confederacy to give chase may have been
the greatest mistake of the war.
Emerging Strategies—after Bull
Run all knew the war would last for awhile and now Scott’s Anaconda Plan was put
- The North would protect DC
while trying to attack Richmond.
- The southern coast was
- The Mississippi, Tennessee
and Cumberland Rivers would be invaded as well dividing the Confederacy.
- The Confederate plan was
much easier; they would try to defend themselves until they could convince
France and England to recognize them and aid in their cause.
- Also, they would count on
public sentiment in the North to turn against the war—all they had to do in
this regard was hope for a high casualty rate.
- When they were recruiting
their army, diplomats were also in Paris and London while Confederate
sympathizers were urging and end to the war in the North.
Naval Operations—after Bull Run
throughout the rest of 1861 the navy took center stage in the east.
- In Norfolk, the Confederates
outfitted a former Union frigate in iron (The Merrimac) and renamed it the CSS
- It played havoc with Union
ships at the entrance to the Chesapeake until the Monitor showed up a day
later and they fought to a draw. (The Merrimac was scuttled when they gave
up Norfolk shortly after).
- After gaining naval
supremacy, the Union then captured forts up and down the southern coast. By
the spring of 1862 David Farragut had captured New Orleans and Baton Rouge
giving the Federals control of the lower Mississippi.
Forming Armies—Lincoln’s early
calls for volunteers—he called for 1,000,000 troops after Bull Run and the
states sent them as state regiments, many led by politicians—many inept.
recruitment—they served for a year as volunteers and by 1862 Davis had to use
- By 1864 those from 18-45
could be drafted. One could avoid the draft in the South by providing a
substitute (not of draft age) or by paying $500.
- Also, those who served in
“critical” areas could stay at home. Since teachers were critical, an
explosion in education occurred in the South during the war.
- Any white who owned a
plantation with more than 20 slaves could stay home leading to the cry “a rich
man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”
- Many state officials abused
the system by working in “vital” jobs.
In the South the draft was a bit
of an irony as it gave a strong central government those very rights that the
Southerners had always bitched about back in the Union days.
Union conscription—started in
1863 and included those aged 20-45. One could also buy a substitute or pay $300.
The draft ion the North and the
South led people to volunteer, either for bounties or to be spared the disgrace
of being drafted.
- New York draft riots—the
announcement of the draft in July of 1863 led to riots among the immigrants,
especially the Irish.
- They took out most of their
rage on the blacks but also attacked republicans, factories, offices, homes,
and by the time it was over one week later, 120 people were dead.
- “A child of 3 years of age
was thrown from a 4th story window and instantly killed. A woman
one after her confinement was set upon and beaten with her tender babe in
hers arms… children were torn from their mother’s embrace and their brains
blown out in the very face of the afflicted mother. Men were burnt by slow
- Union soldiers returning
from Gettysburg finally restored order.
The West in the Civil
War—settlers continued to stream into the west during the Civil War and precious
metals continued to move east. As a result new communications lines and
stagecoach lines carried both. New territories organized during the war were
Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona and Montana. Nevada would reach
statehood by 1864.
- The Kansas-Missouri
border—most soldiers in the west headed east to fight but one problem area was
this border as precious metals had to be protected and Lincoln had to win
support for his presidency.
- Confederate leader William
C. Quantrill reeked havoc in Lawrence, Kansas when his followers were
ordered to “kill every male and burn every house.”
- They killed 182 men and
boys on august 21, 1863.
- They were opposed by the
Jayhawks who originated under John Brown and were the counterpart to the
- The Jayhawk is a
mythical bird whose origin is rooted in the historic struggles of Kansas
- The name combines two
birds-the blue jay, a noisy, quarrelsome thing known to rob nests, and
the sparrow hawk, a stealthy hunter.
Actions in the West—in the east
nothing much happened after Manassas allowing actions in the west to take center
stage, beginning with Albert Sidney Johnston’s attempts to take Kentucky.
- Grant’s move against Forts
Donelson—Johnston was driven from Kentucky when Grant defeated him here and
opened the way to Nashville by water (Tennessee River).
- This is where he gets the
nickname “Unconditional Surrender” for his terms to Johnston who then
abandoned KY and TN for Corinth, MS, a railroad junction.
Battle of Shiloh—after gaining
KY and TN Grant continued down the Tennessee towards Corinth.
- Before he could reach
Johnston and the Confederates, they attacked him at Shiloh.
- The only thing that saved
Grant and his troops was the fatal wounding of Johnston and his second in
command called off the attack.
- Grant was reinforced the next
day and defeated the Confederates who went back to Corinth with the Union
troops too beat up to give chase.
- Grant said the next day
that the ground was “so covered with dead one could walk across the field
without touching the ground.”
- The 25,000 casualties
suffered here exceeded the total dead and wounded of the Revolution, War
of 1812 and the Mexican War combined!!!
- For his part, Grant was
replaced after this battle by his superior (jealous) Henry Halleck who
spread rumors that grant was drunk at Shiloh. The Union campaign then ground
to a halt.
- Halleck, like McClellan
had a case of the “slows” and the Confederates abandoned Corinth headed
for the rail center of Chattanooga, which also tied together eastern
Tennessee and Lincoln wanted to control these rails and the Unionists
campaign—after Manassas Lincoln replaced McDowell with McClellan and he would
build a well-trained well-organized army whose troops loved him. But, he was too
concerned with losing a battle to go out and win one.
- He used Allan Pinkerton to
estimate the strength of his enemy and he always overestimated so McClellan
always needed more troop before he attacked. Lincoln wanted the army to move
straight south to Richmond but McClellan had other ideas.
- He wanted to sail down the
Potomac and then turn up the Peninsula of Virginia traveling to Richmond
between the York and James rivers. By the end of May the Union troops had
advanced so close to Richmond that Davis sent his own family out of the city,
and then McClellan lost.
- Robert Lee now was an adviser
to Davis told him to send stonewall Jackson west into the Shenandoah Valley to
draw out McDowell who was protecting Washington.
- McClellan fought at Seven
Pines to a draw then Robert Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia.
The two then fought the Seven Days Battle but Lee couldn’t dislodge the Union
forces. Lincoln then demoted McClellan.
Second Battle of Bull
Run—McClellan was ordered to abandon the peninsula and come back to Washington
where a new attempt would be made on Richmond straight south.
Lee’s invasion at Antietam—Grant
took his time going north and Lee and Jackson both attacked the Union forces
again at Manassas. The Union was soundly defeated this time too and pulled back
to Washington once again. McClellan was put back in charge.
Antietam—(Sharpsburg) Lee now
headed for the north for a lot of reasons—not the least of which was to get
recognition of the South from Europe.
- He would attack Pennsylvania
if he could reach it, but his plans were found wrapped around a cigar in
western Maryland, and McClellan gave chase, but delayed as usual allowing Lee
to reassemble the army he split up hours earlier.
- McClellan attacked but Lee’s
forces were reinforced by A. P. Hill’s troops not so fresh off victory at
- The battle ended in a draw
after the single bloodiest day in American history—well over 20,000
casualties including nine generals’ dead.
- McClellan called it a
victory but Lincoln had other thoughts, “If you don’t want to use the army,
I should like to borrow it for a while.” He then removed McClellan for good
sending him to recruiting duty in NJ.
- Lincoln’s appointment of
Ambrose Burnside and the Battle of Fredericksburg—he picked the worst general
he could have, and Burnside twice before turned down the job as he felt unfit
for so large a job.
- Burnside would attack
Richmond in the middle of winter 1862-1863 by way of Fredericksburg. On
December 13, they attacked across a large field getting killed by the
hundreds trying to attack the Confederate position atop Marye’s Heights.
- By the end of the suicidal
day the Union forces had lost 12,000 and Burnside was said to weep at the
order to withdraw.
- At the end of 1862 the
east was deadlocked, the west was stalled and the northern democrats were
calling for a peace settlement.
- The president’ owns
competency was called into question with his poor choices for commanders
but the bigger picture saw the north’s superior resources beginning to pay
- After Antietam Lincoln
signed the Emancipation Proclamation—to take effect on January 1st.
The move for emancipation—as the
war dragged on slaves began to show up in Union camps and Lincoln at first had
to be careful what to do with them as they could chase the Border States south.
- In April 1862 he outlawed
slavery in the District with compensation, but by later that year he decided
that the war had to be turned into a war of abolition.
- It would thus lend a moral
cause to the war in the north and it would end any hopes the south had of
England or France recognizing a slave nation. But, he needed a victory
before issuing the proclamation. The best he could do was Antietam since at
least Lee had withdrawn.
- What he did was free any
slave that resided in a state that was in rebellion. Robert Smalls took over
a southern gunboat and sailed to freedom later becoming a Congressman.
Blacks in the military—mostly
they were used as guides, informants or laborers. The thought of using them as
military forces scared the white population too much but the proclamation said
that blacks could enroll in the military—albeit in all-black units.
- One such unit was the 54th
Massachusetts led by Colonel Robert Shaw and he led an assault on Fort Wagner,
SC losing almost half of the unit including Shaw.
- The Confederates threw his
body in an unmarked grave along with the bodies of his comrades. The use of
black troops was a large blow to the rebel soldiers.
- By 1865 Tennessee and
Missouri would abolish slavery and in December 1865 the 13th
amendment became part of the Constitution and would become law when ratified
by ¾ of the reunited states.
Women and the war
- In the South women took on
all the traditional roles of men as most of the men were off fighting the war.
But they also faced the wrath of the slaves.
- In the North Dorothea Dix and
Clara Barton volunteered their services as nurses and led the 20,000 who
served as such.
- Barton followed the war and
at Antietam she was so close to the fighting that while she worked on a
patient a bullet tore through her sleeve and killed her patient!
- People like Barton had to
challenge male doctors and male bureaucrats thus winning greater confidence
in their abilities in the process.
Government during the War
- The impact of secession on
Congress was monumental—the Southern politicians that dominated were all gone
and now the Republicans were in control.
- They passed a tariff a
transcontinental railroad and a homestead act by the end of 1862.
- The National Banking Act
created a federal bank that issued the only notes offered and these bank
notes that were100% backed.
- National banks were now
required to back their banknotes with interest bearing federal government
bonds. So in the event of a national bank failure, the note holder would
be repaid by the bond on deposit.
- Also with this act, came
the creation of the Comptroller of the Currency, a department of the U.S.
Treasury. This gave the Comptroller of the Currency the primary
supervisory control of the national banks.
- This act gave birth to
the national banking system with federally chartered banks. This gave the
states the power to limit branching within their borders.
- This prevented banks from
expanding the amount of bank notes in circulation which caused the money
supply to decrease.
- The Morrill Land Grant Act
was created to give land to states for use as state colleges for agriculture
and mechanics—URI was one.
Financing the War
Methods used in the
North—increased tariff and excise taxes on every profession. In addition, an
income tax was levied for the first time and the Internal Revenue Act creates an
agency to collect these taxes.
- Taxes came in slowly so
Congress also reverted to the issuance of greenbacks (color). This money was
backed by bonds that the new banks were required to invest in.
- Many business leaders honed
their skills during this time too as J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and
Andrew Carnegie began their fortunes. The Civil War was quite unpleasant for
many Americans but it was great for Wall Street.
- Many of the era's foremost
robber barons— J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Jay
Gould— dodged the draft by paying $300 to hire a substitute.
- This modest investment left
them free to spend the war years getting rich instead of getting shot. Many
on Wall Street, including Morgan, made a fortune speculating in gold, the
price of which rose against the dollar with each defeat of the Union Army.
- Appalled, President Lincoln
announced that he hoped every gold speculator ‘had his devilish head shot
- Meanwhile, Morgan was
financing a deal to buy 5,000 rifles from a Union Army arsenal in New York
for $3.50 apiece, and then sell them to the Union Army in Virginia for $22
- The rifles were
defective—causing soldiers to shoot their thumbs off.
Confederate finances—a disaster
- Import and export duties were
used but both were low and a direct tax on property was used but the
collection was left to the states that filled their quotas by floating loans.
- Taxes on other items after
1863 did nothing but outrage farmers who then found many ways to avoid them.
They also sold bonds but as a last resort they printed paper money to the tune
of 1 billion dollars worth.
- By 1864 a turkey cost $100
and a pound of bacon cost $10. Those in the country could provide for
themselves but in the cities things were very bad indeed.
- Importance of diplomacy to
the Confederacy—they tried first and foremost to get outside help and were
stymied as they thought that King Cotton would aid them in military aid and
- Even though they were
blockaded they imposed an embargo on their own cotton in the hopes that
European countries would come to their aid but instead, they found supplies
of cotton elsewhere, like Egypt and India.
- The only time England
seriously came close to intervention was with the Trent affair—when the Union
stopped this British ship that was carrying James Mason and John Slidell—tow
- Lincoln and Seward caved
and let Mason and Slidell go.
- The one avenue that the
Confederates did succeed in getting supplies was with raiding ships,
especially the Alabama and the Florida. They were not considered warships
because they leave shipyards unarmed and picked up guns later.
- These British-built
commerce-raiders destroyed about 250 US merchant ships throughout the
- The Laird “rams”
(1863)—two CSA warships being constructed in the Laird Shipyard in GB. The
ships were designed to destroy Union blockading vessels, and probably would
have! US threatened war with Britain if the ships are delivered—the crisis
is averted when the Royal Navy purchases the ships.
- Lincoln faced the pressure of
the Radicals—they were the abolitionists and were led by Thaddeus Stevens,
Charles Sumner and Ben Wade—they wanted to confiscate plantations, free
slaves, but the majority of the party backed Lincoln’s plan for war.
- Actions of the Democrats—they
lost Stephen Douglas in June 1861. Most war democrats supported Lincoln
especially senator Andrew Johnson (TN) and Secretary of War Stanton.
- A “peace wing” caused
problems for Lincoln, however, even flirting with disloyalty to the Union.
They were called “copperheads” and were mostly in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana
and many were formerly southerners.
- They were led by men like
Clement Vallandigham who was arrested under the suspension of habeas corpus
and thrown in jail for the duration of the war. He was later banished to the
Confederacy by Lincoln.
- The Democrats meeting at
Chicago for their national convention picked George McClellan to head their
ticket. They wanted peace but McClellan backed off this stance and the party
really was in disarray.
- The Republicans went with
Lincoln who then picked Andrew Johnson of TN dropping Hannibal Hamlin.
- They changed their party
name to the National Union Party for the one election. Lincoln fully
expected to lose but the tide turned when Farragut captured Mobile, Sherman
captured Atlanta, and Lincoln granted furlough to soldiers to go home to
- Results—212 to 21 with
McClellan taking only NJ, Delaware and KY.
Confederate politics… a disaster
- Status of politics in the
Confederate system—Davis and Stephens were elected to a six-year term and
didn’t like one another.
- Davis while in Richmond had
to contend with the Richmond bread riot in April of 1863 when women rioted
over the price of flour—he persuaded them personally to disperse.
- He had dissenters as did
Lincoln, the German counties of Texas, the hills of Arkansas and the Piedmont
of North Carolina as well as much of the Appalachian spine presented problems
- But his biggest problems were
of states’ rights in the Confederacy—the states that seceded did so partly
over control of the central government so then they guarded themselves against
letting Davis do the same from Richmond.
- His worst detractor in this
regard probably was his VP who left Richmond to sulk in Georgia. For his
part, Davis was said to be stubborn, insecure and indecisive, but once he
made a decision, he stuck with it.
- Where Lincoln was pragmatic
(practical—go with whatever works), Davis was dogmatic (opinionated without
Wearing down the Confederacy
- Appointment of Joseph E.
Hooker to lead the North—Lincoln turned to Hooker as a replacement for
Burnside but he too would fail in his first big test.
- Battle of Chancellorsville (a
Confederate victory) (May 1-5, 1863)—Hooker had 130,000 under his command and
Lee had half that many.
- Gen. Joseph Hooker,
Burnside's successor, had planned to flank Lee, who was still entrenched
near Fredericksburg, and get between him and Richmond. However, Lee came out
to meet Hooker in Virginia's Wilderness, detaching Jackson for a flanking
- He divided his army with
Jackson going west towards the “Wilderness” and here he was shot in the dark
by his own troops. He lost his left arm and then caught pneumonia and died a
few days later.
- Said Lee, “Jackson lost his
left arm, but I have lost my right arm, and I do not know how to replace
him.” It would be Lee’s last significant victory.
- Grant’s successful assault on
Vicksburg—after Shiloh Grant went west to get control of the Mississippi by
laying siege to Vicksburg and starving them out.
- Lee’s unsuccessful invasion
at Gettysburg—Lee needed to take the heat off Vicksburg and sought to do so by
winning a major battle on northern soil.
- Hooker followed Lee north
but resigned halfway to Pennsylvania after a fight with Halleck. General
George Meade now took charge.
- While on their way to
Harrisburg (rail center) some of Lee’s troops turned southward to the town
of Gettysburg to look for shoes. There they were met by the Union forces and
a fight ensued.
- The battle lasted for three
days and was won by the Union defended Cemetery Ridge.
- Lee had planned for two
of his generals to rush across a field on a suicide mission and only one
general went for it; George Pickett, General Longstreet didn’t buy into
the plan so Pickett’s division went it alone.
- Of the 15,000 who started
the trek across the field, only 5,000 made it. Only a few survivors made
it back to behind the Confederate lines where Lee told Pickett to regroup
his position—“General Lee, I have no division.”
- Years later, Pickett said
“That old man had my division slaughtered.”
- The Confederates
retreated having failed to take the pressure off Vicksburg—indeed,
Vicksburg surrendered on July 4th while Lee’s men marched home
in the driving rain. Meade failed to give chase.
- Union victory at Chattanooga
(September 1863)—another rail center in eastern Tennessee and gateway to
Georgia, they met at a place called Chickamauga a few miles south of town.
- Rosecrans won here then
chased Bragg into Georgia where Bragg then won at Chickamauga. The South
could have won more decisively except that General Thomas (Union) earned his
nickname—“The Rock of Chickamauga.”
- The Union withdrew to
Chattanooga however, and Bragg cut the rail lines from the west cutting off
supplies. Grant was on his way with Sherman from the West and reopened the
supplies lines and replaced Rosecrans as commander.
- The Union troops then
attacked Lookout Mountain in the “Battle above the Clouds” and the
Confederate forces fled. Bragg was replaced after this battle and the
federals now held all Tennessee. From the Union standpoint—Lincoln now
realized he had a general after all—Grant.
Defeat of the Confederacy—during
the winter of 1863-1864 the South was sensing defeat everywhere. The Union
forces sensed it as well as well and decided to step up attacks.
- Lincoln had a new general and
would send him south to Richmond after Lee and Sherman would come north from
- The difference in the east
was that this time Grant would practice total war against Lee by constantly
attacking them killing their will to fight. Grant would also wage total war
destroying everything along the way that could aid the Confederacy.
The Wilderness Campaign—May 1864
Grant caught up with Lee next to Chancellorsville and this marked the first time
the two generals squared off. Grant suffered heavier casualties but Lee was
running out of replacements.
- Although Grant’s officers
were in awe of Lee and expected to go north after the battle to lick their
wounds—Grant instead gave chase to Spotsylvania with Lee’s troops getting
there barely ahead of Grant’s!
- Some of the deadliest
fighting of the war occurred here at the Bloody Angle.
- June 1864 saw the same forces
meet up at Cold Harbor closing in on Richmond. Grant’s troops suffered 7,000
casualties in 20 minutes. Many printed their names on the uniforms and one
wrote in his diary—“June 3, 1864, Cold Harbor, Virginia. I was killed.”
- After this series of battles
Grant became known as the “Butcher,” and the loss of life led Lincoln to think
that he would be defeated in the upcoming election. From here Grant went south
to Petersburg, 25 miles south of Richmond and a rail center where he dug in to
siege the city.
- The siege lasted nine
months with occasion battles such as the “Crater” when the Union forces
tried to tunnel under the Rebels and blow them up.
- Lee’s troops were in bad
shape after nine months suffering from a loss of supplies and cold, and
desertions ran high. Lee then made a decision to leave Petersburg to join
with Johnston’s troops in North Carolina.
Sherman’s march through the
South—Sherman took Atlanta and burned the warehouses and rails on his way to the
ocean. Helping matters were the fact that Davis replaced Bragg with Johnston
then crazy man John B. Hood.
- Hood tried to keep Sherman
from destroying Georgia with his scorched earth policy by luring him into
Tennessee but Sherman wouldn’t give chase.
- Hood found too many Federals
waiting for him in Tennessee anyway and the confederate forces were finally
defeated at the Battle of Nashville (December 1864).
- Meanwhile, Sherman burned and
destroyed everything in his path—he knew that the important thing was not
strength of one’s army but one’s will to wage war, and he broke the will of
- By the time he got to the
Atlantic he left a 250 mile path of destruction in his wake then turned north
and did even worse to that “hell-hole of secession,” South Carolina.
Appomattox—winter of 1864 was
especially harsh on Lee and his troops were also abreast of the news coming from
- With many of his troops
deserting, he made plans to abandon Petersburg to link up with Johnston’s army
in North Carolina. Davis also fled Richmond at this time only to be caught in
Georgia in May.
- Lee tried to find the rails
south but found his escape route blocked by General Phil Sheridan and then
dressed in his best dress blues and met with a filthy Grant and he
- Grant let Lee’s officers keep
their firearms and the soldiers kept their horses and went home. A week later
Johnston surrendered to Sherman. During the month of May confederate forces
throughout the country surrendered as well.